The Efficiency Expert or Spotswood (as it may be known outside of the United States) is another unknown Australian made film which uses Russell's current status as an advertisement in the hope of selling DVD's. If you can even find this film for purchase don't be fooled by his name plastered on the front cover Russell is not the star of this film, he's simply one of the many minor characters. Still that doesn't make The Efficiency Expert not a film worth checking out.
The Efficiency Expert actually stars Anthony Hopkins as Errol Wallace an efficiency expert who is hired as a consultant for the Spotswood Balls factory, who have been specializing in the production of moccasins for over thirty years. The owner seems to believe all they need is some modernization, but as Wallace takes a look around at the factory's departments, employees and inner workings it's clear modernization is the least of Balls worries, they need to make major cut backs or pray for a miracle.
If you're a fan of simple, silly, comedic films about kooky small town citizens, The Efficiency Expert is worth a look. If nothing else the film showcases some early performances by Russell Crowe as Kim Barry, a hard nosed youngster looking to strike it big in the business world by selling out his co-workers, and the debut role for Toni Collette who plays short of a tomboy character. It's simply the range of characters that make this film worth checking out, only unfortunate that the story is such a convoluted mess that it hinders the film from being a real diamond in the rough comedy.
The real problem with The Efficiency Expert is the story, there's so many things going on, so many character sub-stories being explored that the main story never feels very solid, and leaves you wanting more. For example Hopkins character is in the middle of a stressful strike negation with a company, on the last leg of his marriage and getting involved with the individuals over at Balls. All these sub-stories eventually add something to the overall story but they're never given enough time to be fleshed out and make the film as a whole work. Throw in the character of Carey who's pursuing the boss's snobby daughter, while toying around with Toni Collette's character and Russell Crowe attempting to take over the company, it's all a little much to be cramming into an hour and a half film and allow the characters or the story to develop.
Overall, The Efficiency Expert is still a entertaining little comedy, nothing outstanding, nothing groundbreaking and definitely much room for improvement. It's a simple film with a miniseries worth of material, had the writers simply stuck with the goings on at Balls factory and not diverted into so many character sub-stories I think the film as a whole would have been a lot more satisfying and complete in the end, instead it feels quite rushed and unrealistic.